The Marketing industry is exploding throughout the United States as the technilogical age proves that effective promotion is required to succeed in the business world. “If you can’t promote your products and/or services, you might as well not have any,” says Harold Dean, a multi-millionaire who specializes in marketing and consulting. “There are too many competitors out there who either had your idea first, or copied your idea as soon as they saw it.”
Effective marketing isn’t just about tag lines and cheeky phrases. Investing your time and energy into the promotion of your product can make all the difference, because if you are working hard to spread the word, people place their trust in whatever it is you have to offer. Setting up a website or opening your store won’t bring in the customers; you have to go to them.
There are thousands of marketing companies out there who can be outsourced to promote your products for you. Most of these companies have scores of clients and can back up their claims with testimonials and portfolios. If you don’t have the time or the resources to run an effective marketing campaign, hiring an outside company may be your best option. All you have to do is prepare a list of goals and obstacles, and take your idea to these companies. They will sit down with you to determine your needs and target audience, and off you go!
If, however, you do decide to market your own product or service, there are several key factors that are important to any promotional campaign:
1. Create a business plan! Its a lot of work, and it can be a dreaded assignment for any entrepreneur who prefers action to planning, but it is essential if you want your product or service to be successful. Without clear-cut goals, budgets, steps, and ideas, your company has no direction, and therefore no future. You must know where you will be in six months, a year, two years, five years, and beyond, and you must plan for every eventuality.
2. Be prepared! Before you begin contacting possible clients or drawing in future customers, make sure you are prepared to sell your product. Have your brochures, company letterhead, business cards, flyers, coupons, and invoices ready before you accept your first client or customer because consumers do not spend money on disorganization! They want to know what they are buying and what they should expect, and if you pitch new things at them through every step of the process, they will begin to realize that you don’t have your act together, and you will have lost a repeating customer.
3. Give ’em a deal! New businesses have to enter the market from the ground – up, and as such, you must know where you stand. Sixty-eight percent of consumers find a product they like and stick with it forever, which means that you have familiarity and habit with which to contend. You have to show your customers that if they try your product or service, they will be rewarded for taking a chance. So print up some coupons, offer a few sales, and give discounts to customers who provide referrals. All of these things will benefit you in the end, and will ensure a positive turn-out.
4. Stay Connected! Customers like to feel that they are valued. They like to think that their business is appreciated, and that you have a deep concern for them on a personal level. Now, if you have a 30,000 + client base, there isn’t any way that you can remember the names of all your customers’ children or the year that they graduated college, but you can give them the impression that you care. How? Its easy! Send Christmas cards to all of your customers during the holidays; deliver mail-outs to preferred customers who offer referrals or purchase from you on a regular basis; take it one step further and send birthday cards; keep a database on your computer that shows which customers order which products and send them specials on new items. Staying connected is simple if you stay organized, and you will certainly reap the benefits in the end.
5. Offer Excellent Customer Service! Whether you have a small business or a huge corporation, it is important that you stay on top of customer service. Don’t let a dissatisfied customer leave your office with a bad taste in his or her mouth; do everything in your power to right the wrongs and assist the customer with their problem. Let’s face it: some customers will never come around after they feel they have been wronged, but many can be pacified with discounts, free gifts, or even a sincere apology. If nothing else, ask the customer what you can do to rectify the situation; often, he or she will tell you exactly what it will take to ensure their repeated business.
6. Follow up! Continue to let your customers know that you value their business, and that you hope they are enjoying your product or service. Call a week after their purchase just to make sure they are satisfied, and ask if there is anything else you can do for them. This has two benefits: a) You are letting the customer know you are, and this gives you a method of tracking customer satisfaction, and b) This gives you an opportunity to promote other products and services that this customer might need now or in the future. At least ten percent of the time, the customer will be interested in something else, and you’ll have another sale!
Marketing and Customer Service go hand in hand, and unless you can effectively deal with people, and not just business, you won’t be able to succeed.